EDITORIAL: Feeling grateful to be Canadian

We've got plenty to feel good about as we celebrate Canada Day

Whether you’re relaxing alone or with family tomorrow (July 1), celebrating our country’s 148th birthday at events around the West Shore, or working to provide a service, Canada Day offers a chance to reflect on what it’s like to be Canadian.

The ability to choose where you live, who you hang out with and what lawful activities you engage in, not to mention the fact we live in a generally peaceful nation, are freedoms we take for granted.

Sure, daily life presents its challenges. But in Canada we still have less restrictions on movement, how we express our beliefs on all manner of subjects, and other general facets of life than residents of countries ruled by oppressive leaders.

Like all of us as individuals, Canada is not perfect.

We are becoming known for our less-than-stellar environmental commitments, are dealing with the aftermath of our shoddy treatment of our aboriginal people, and disagree on where or whether to place oil pipelines to the Pacific Coast.

We are criticized at times for our global role to help prevent the spread of terrorist groups and are sometimes knocked for not putting enough money into international aid programs for countries far less well off than ourselves.

Canadians tend to do a lot of navel-gazing, comparing ourselves to the rest of the world, especially our neighbours immediately to the south.

It’s relatively easy to come up with negative examples of why we should be grateful to live in Canada – we don’t have the same level of gun violence as the U.S., aren’t in danger of being taken over by a large neighbour as with Ukraine, or in a major financial crisis as in Greece.

Rather than spinning such comparisons to put ourselves in a good light, why not choose to appreciate the great people who are around us every day and make Canada the special place it is.

We remember the gallantry of those who fought keep Canada and its allies free from tyranny and fear, and admire the people who volunteer their time to work with our kids or seniors. We appreciate our friends and those who stand beside us in times of personal crisis.

While the word “thankful” is something we tend to hear more in October, we have a lot to be grateful for all year living in this country. The freedom to choose what we make of our lives has to be at or near the top of the list.

So today, consider how you feel about living in Canada. We think it’ll make you smile, even if in truly modest Canadian style you do so on the inside.